The Comments Section


Living in Vermont, sometimes it feels like I live in a liberal bubble. defines Liberalism as “a political or social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual, parliamentary systems of government, nonviolent modification of political, social, or economic institutions to assure unrestricted development in all spheres of human endeavor, and governmental guarantees of individual rights and civil liberties,” and according to Gallup, Vermont was ranked the second most liberal state in the US in 2014 (which honestly surprised me, I thought we would be #1.)

Most times, it feels good to live in this bubble and I do it happily – I am generally surrounded by like minded individuals who have very liberal and progressive views. I have the pleasure of having great discussions about our political, social, and economic systems that need reform and improvement and in our household we openly discuss these issues with our daughter and help her understand these complexities at a young age. I guess this is typical of one’s social circle – it’s perfectly normal to be surrounded with those who have the same values and beliefs and quite natural to consume content that is agreeable with one’s political and social standings.

This bubble also exists within the world of social media, where families, friends and professionals communicate with others on a daily basis connecting individuals and sharing news and life events. Today social media is being used to effectively distribute news and information and to bring together large groups of people to work toward a common cause. It is in this world, specifically the comments section, that my liberal bubble bursts on a regular basis.

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In the last few months, I have been shocked, saddened and had my heart broken with what I have read in the comments section of prominent news stories here in Vermont. Most of these stories reinforce the liberalism of our great state, yet a very different view appeared in the comments section.

In October, local news outlets reported that Ku Klux Klan posters were distributed to the home of two people of color in the Burlington area. The police began an investigation into the matter and indicated that this activity was suspicious since the person specifically targeted two people of color and delivered the posters to their homes which made them feel threatened and unsafe.

The investigation ultimately led to an arrest and charges of a hate crime.Comments Section1

Naturally, I was interested in this story and was reading all relevant news stories. Although many of the comments were appropriately supportive of the investigation and sympathetic with the victims, some of the comments horrified me. What I found even more shocking is that the comments were not anonymous – that these people were openly claiming support for the KKK and genuinely believed that the perpetrator was exercising their freedom of speech and that  police were wasting their time and taxpayer money.

More recently, after the horrible tragedy in Paris many US politicians began publicly stating that Syrian refugees are not welcome in this country because they pose a threat to our national security. This is an incredibly complex issue with many layers. Shortly after the attacks Governor Peter Shumlin is one of the few politicians nationwide who announced that Vermont will help the refugees and that he has faith in the government’s screening process in weeding out those who would actually pose a threat to our security.

In response to the Governor’s comments, many were posting comments on the various news stories. To my horror, most of the comments were protectionist, unwelcoming and a few downright hateful. The arguments range from the belief that all Syrians are terrorists and want to kill us, so why should we help them if we can’t even take care of our own.Comments Section

For me, as an immigrant to from a middle eastern country, and a mother to a black daughter, these sentiments are scary and disheartening. It makes me realize that even in Vermont, ignorance and hatred exists and that I have to be vigilant to protect my family from those who hold these values.

But more importantly, I hold on to the fact that sometimes the minority has to scream louder to be heard and that in our great state, we have a strong tradition of taking care of one another and welcoming and helping those in need.  

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A city girl at heart, I moved to Vermont in 2005 and now can’t imagine calling any other place home. Born and half raised in Iran (I moved here when I was 12), I moved a lot before making Vermont home. I live in Essex with my amazing multi-cultural and multi-racial family. My little family consists of my wonderful Canadian husband, my strong, smart and beautiful little girl, Zara (June 2010), and our sweet chocolate lab. I work for the State of Vermont as a Housing Program Officer and own Tala, Taste of Persia, specializing in delicious Persian sweet treats. I am a reluctant runner, love to entertain and shop. My passions are social justice and politics and travel.


  1. Those comments are frightening and heartbreaking, they made my stomach churn. It’s a hard pill to swallow but better to know that those opinions are lurking out there and be prepared to combat them (and help our children understand what’s dangerous about them) than to pretend they don’t exist. Great post, Rey!

  2. To be honest, I never found Vermont to be that liberal. Burlington is certainly VERY liberal-but the rest of Vermont is quite a different story!

  3. Sometimes when I’m reading these ignorant and racist comments, I think of all the people offended by them, shaking their heads at their screens, but ultimately deciding it’s not worth it to start debating with someone that has that mindset. If only we could speak out simply without engaging in circular arguments, I do think the majority of Vermonters would drown out the ignorant. I’ll start here. I HEAR YOU AND I SUPPORT YOU. Much love to you and your family.


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